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Apple and a growing network of hospitals and doctors' offices will now let you import your health history right into your iPhone. We'll show you how.
First, some background. Apple is trying to fix a longstanding problem in health care. Most hospitals and clinics have an electronic health record provider, which includes a "portal" that their patients can use to access medical information. But these portals tend to be extremely wonky and hard to use, so they aren't used much. The situation gets even more complicated for patients who see a lot of doctors, or who move to a different city, since many of these records systems are not compatible with each other.
But people carry their iPhones with them everywhere, and it's a lot more convenient showing a new doctor your medical history on your phone than it is to sign in to multiple web portals and print out reams of documents to bring with you.
Apple is able to do this thanks to HIPAA, a set of regulations that gives patients the right to their own health data, among other things. The company has signed up medical institutions extremely quickly since it announced the beta in January. As of March, Apple supports 300 hospitals and 40 health systems, and new ones are being added all the time:
If your doctor supports the feature, you can now easily see all sorts of data including health records, allergies, clinical vitals, conditions, immunizations, lab results, medications and procedures, all right on my iPhone.
I was able to test this using records that were stored in my file during visits to NYU Langone in New York City. (Since this is personal data, I'm blurring some of the results.)
You'll view a page that looks like this, which shows all of the health records you'd normally have to dig through on a complicated website. In this case, I can see that there are 233 records stored, including 147 lab results, 6 reports on medications, 1 immunization record, 4 conditions and 72 results on clinical vital tests.
Here's why this all matters: Previously, it wasn't very easy to quickly find your health records. You'd have to log in to a portal and open each test individually to see results, or browse through various appointments. They typically look like this:
Now, with Apple Health records, you can just open up the app, pop in to see your lab results, and close out. You have a full picture of your medical history in your pocket at all times, and you can use this to show other doctors your data or remember what medications you're on and what conditions you need to stay on top of.